Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil

Whither MFA? Redux

2 Comments

hannahgriThe writer’s conundrum rises again!  Should writers go for an MFA in Creative Writing?

I wrote about my own quandry a few months ago entitled, “Whither MFA?” –>https://orderofthegoodwrite.com/2015/03/12/whither-mfa/   I’d love to think the NYTimes (my former employer) read my blog, because their website has just published  an article about the subject  (Hey – a lady can dream.)

I’ve decided to say – “never say never” to an MFA. I’m always open. Yet, there have been many people in the writing world who’ve come to me and said they don’t know anyone with an MFA.  Needless to say, many men and women of words weigh the pros and cons of taking two years off from a paying job and sinking almost $50,000 to further improve and enrich their writing talent.

In the end – you have a nice piece of paper to frame on your wall and credentials to add luster to your qualifications as freelance writer or coach.

Then, there are others (like me – for now) who feel their fresh, yet sometimes wobbly ability to express their experiences and subversive concepts of life are enough.

I’m on the fence.  I’m open to both possibilities.  But right now I’d rather use my personal experience to express my stories. Let me lead by example to help other everyday people who love to write – write.

I’ve been through the wringer of after work Non-Fiction and creative writing classes. Late evening workshops were spent with aspiring essayists who wanted to be David Sedaris, ultimately reading their work on NPR.  Other writers just want to write a book about their family – to galvanize proof of their existence on this earth so their vital memories and experiences live on.

Read more literature, join book clubs, attend writing forums, participate in Goodreads boards where you analyze the basics of Jane Austin?  Yes!  That replenishes the font with good thought and practice.

I applaud the MFA in Creative Writing. I think it adds depth to the writing experience, allows you to think about the social aspects of your work and provides an intense connection with other writers and mentors who can boost your network and fortify your expression.

Yet, I believe you can do this yourself. Look around on Google and take a proactive approach. Volunteer at social groups. Be persistent with editors on your new ideas. Travel and explore different cultures. Join groups in person and online where you are provided with opportunities to lean forward and step into your own MFA of Writing.

The education of life can be the best diploma of all. And you can still go to your full time job and save about $50K.

Here’s that NYTimes article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/education/edlife/12edl-12mfa.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=mini-moth&region=top-stories-below&WT.nav=top-stories-below&_r=0

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Author: Debi Rotmil

I'm Debi Rotmil. I'm the author of the book "Hitting Water: A Book of Stories" and founder of The Good Write. I write, eat, walk the dog, write, blog, jog, spin. I work everyday to try and change the world in my own way.

2 thoughts on “Whither MFA? Redux

  1. I’m with you, Debi. $50K is $50K and no guarantee of publishing success. The completion of the MFA is an admirable goal and something that can be done when the timing is right. Ω

  2. Thanks, Allan – and well said. As you can see, I’m always curious if an MFA is a goal I’d like to achieve. But then I wonder if it even makes sense.

    Someone commented on the NYTimes article and his words really sang to me. I hope I’m not getting in trouble when I post this statement from “Brad”….

    “As a successful screenwriter, I would urge young writers to stay away from MFA programs. First, more school is not going to give you the life experience you need to have something to actually write about. The biggest issue with MFA fiction is it is generally well-crafted but bloodless. Also, you will get thousands of comments from insecure, competitive fellow students and generally bitter teachers who achieved a fraction of what they hoped to. You will homogenize your writing to get them to like you and then you will lose the most precious thing you have: your distinctive voice. Writers need time to develop, they don’t need an MFA.”

    Bravo! Bravo!

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